Victorian community

Victorian community perceptions of corruption 2022

Summary of key insights

Theme

Key findings

Opportunities

Perceptions about corruption as a problem

  • More people think corruption and police misconduct happens and are problems in Victoria compared to 2016
  • Perceptions differ between demographic groups (eg by age, for those living in regional areas, or for people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or speak a language other than English)
  • Majority think they ‘know what constitutes corruption’
  • Tailor information to different demographic groups to address differences in perceptions

Behaviours most likely to be considered corruption or misconduct

  • Wide agreement about the actions that are corrupt by state and local government employees
  • Tendency to view police behaviours as misconduct rather than corruption
  • Improve understanding across demographic groups about the differences between misconduct and corruption to assist with improving rates of reporting

Reporting corruption and misconduct

  • Main reason for reporting corruption is because Victorians ‘deserve a public sector free of corruption’
  • While most would report corruption, confidence about the outcomes and protections is lower
  • Victorians who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or aged 18-34 years old are less likely to ‘definitely’ report corruption or misconduct
  • Provide further information about the protections available when making a complaint
  • Enhance transparency regarding the outcomes from complaints

Awareness and understanding of IBAC

  • Most are aware of IBAC, but level of understanding about what IBAC does is low
  • Information mainly from media reporting
  • Most agree it is important IBAC exists, over half would most likely to report to IBAC
  • Raise awareness of other ways to find out about IBAC (eg website, prevention resources)

Prevalence of corruption and misconduct

 Victorians value behaving with honesty and integrity.

Most Victorians (90%) agree that ‘behaving with honesty and integrity is important to me’ and 71 per cent agree that they know what behaviour constitutes corruption.Most Victorians (90%) agree that ‘behaving with honesty and integrity is important to me’ and 71 per cent agree that they know what behaviour constitutes corruption. The proportion who know what behaviour constitutes corruption has increased significantly compared to 2016 (65%).

An increasing proportion of Victorians agree that corruption happens in Victoria.

Most Victorians (83%) believe corruption happens in Victoria and 64 per cent think it is a problem. Significantly more Victorians believe it to be a problem in 2022 compared to 2016 (42%). People living in regional locations are significantly more likely to think corruption happens in Victoria (88%).

By comparison, seven in 10 Victorians (71%) agree police misconduct happens in Victoria. People who identify as LGBTIQ+ are significantly more likely to agree police misconduct happens in Victoria (77%) and people who speak a language other than English are significantly less likely to agree it happens (65%).

Most Victorians (83%) believe corruption happens in Victoria and 64 per cent think it is a problem. Significantly more Victorians believe it to be a problem in 2022 compared to 2016 (42%).

Graph 1. Agreement with statements about public sector corruption and police misconduct in Victoria (%)

There is understanding of government behaviours that constitute corruption or misconduct.

There is wide agreement that a range of actions by state or local government employees are corruption. A little over three quarters (78%) claim that a public servant accepting a bribe to award a contract is ‘definitely corrupt’ behaviour. Two thirds (67%) claim that using confidential information to buy land that will be rezoned is ‘definitely corrupt’. Use of a work credit card for a taxi fare or a council holding an extravagant Christmas party are less likely to be viewed as corruption and more likely to be viewed as misconduct.  

A little over three quarters (78%) claim that a public servant accepting a bribe to award a contract is ‘definitely corrupt’ behaviour.

Graph 2. Perception of corrupt behaviours (%)

There is broad agreement on police behaviours that are viewed as corruption or misconduct.


Nearly all police behaviours evaluated are viewed as either corrupt or misconduct by a large majority of Victorians (around nine in 10), however the lines appear blurrier in understanding what constitutes corruption or misconduct in Victoria Police. Bribes or removing drugs from a crime scene are clearly understood to be corruption (76% and 53% respectively understand this to be ‘definitely corrupt’). However, many behaviours are considered misconduct rather than corruption, such as repeatedly asking a victim out on a date (60% consider this to be misconduct) or using racial slurs against a suspect (63%). An extravagant staff Christmas party and free fast food are least likely to be considered either corruption or misconduct.

Nearly all police behaviours evaluated are viewed as either corrupt or misconduct by a large majority of Victorians (around nine in 10), however the lines appear blurrier in understanding what constitutes corruption or misconduct in Victoria Police.

Graph 3. Perception of Victoria Police corruption behaviours (%)

Reporting corruption and misconduct

Victorians generally agree with a range of statements that identify reporting corruption is essential to ensure an ethical, fair, and democratic society.

Seventy-six per cent agree that “if I personally observed corruption or misconduct, I would definitely report it”, with 29 per cent strongly agreeing with this statement. This finding is consistent with the 2016 survey results. Victorians who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and those aged between 18-34 years old are significantly less likely to agree that they would ‘definitely’ report corruption or misconduct (62% and 72% respectively). People living in regional locations and those aged 55 years and over were significantly more likely to agree they would make a report (83% and 81% respectively).

Most people (82%) are motivated to report corrupt behaviour or misconduct because they want and believe they deserve a public sector that is free of corruption; 80 per cent also believe it is in the best interests of the community to report corruption or misconduct. Preventing and dealing with corruption is key to maintaining a fair and democratic society for most Victorians (77%). Less than a third of Victorians (31%) agree that their friends and family would influence their decision to report corruption or misconduct.

Seventy-six per cent agree that “if I personally observed corruption or misconduct, I would definitely report it”, with 29 per cent strongly agreeing with this statement.

Graph 4. Agreement with statements about reporting of public sector corruption or police misconduct (%)

IBAC is the organisation that most Victorians feel they would make a report to.

IBAC is the organisation the community is most likely to report corruption and misconduct to (54%). This is consistent across individual groups within the community. The Victorian Ombudsman (34%) and Victoria Police (33%) are the other organisations most likely to be approached.

Victorians aged 18-34 years old are significantly more likely to report to Victoria Police (39%) compared to the average, while Victorians aged 55 years and over and people who live with a disability are significantly more likely than average to make a report to the Victorian Ombudsman (43% respectively).

IBAC is the organisation the community is most likely to report corruption and misconduct to (54%). This is consistent across individual groups within the community.

Graph 5. Who to report corruption to (%)

For those unlikely to report corruption or misconduct (<30 respondents), they feel nothing would happen (49%) or they could be personally impacted (39%).

There are some concerns among Victorians about the personal impacts of reporting corruption and misconduct.

A little over one third of Victorians (37%) believe that meaningful action would result from a report of corruption, a significant increase from 2016 (25%). However, more Victorians are simply unsure about this (37% ‘neither agree nor disagree’, 15% ‘don’t know’). One in three people (33%) agree there would be personal repercussions from reporting corruption (down from 39% in 2016). More than a quarter of Victorians (27%) are confident about being protected from victimisation, a significant increase from 2016 (20%).

Victorians who speak a language other than English are significantly more likely to feel meaningful action would result from a report of corruption (42%) and feel confident they would be protected from victimisation (33%). This is also the case for people aged between 18-34 years old (43% and 35% respectively).

A little over one third of Victorians (37%) believe that meaningful action would result from a report of corruption, a significant increase from 2016 (25%). However, more Victorians are simply unsure about this (37% ‘neither agree nor disagree’, 15% ‘don’t know’).

Graph 6. Agreement with statements about reporting outcomes (%)

Awareness and perceptions of IBAC

Most Victorians have heard about IBAC but the level of understanding of what IBAC does is low.

Over two-thirds of Victorians (69%) have heard of IBAC, however only a little over one in 10 Victorians (13%) have a ‘good’ understanding of IBAC’s functions. For most, they only know ‘a little’ about what IBAC does (35%) or have heard the name but are ‘not sure what they do’ (21%).

Victorians aged 18-34 years and people from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background were significantly less likely to have a good understanding about IBAC (10% respectively).

Over two-thirds of Victorians (69%) have heard of IBAC, however only a little over one in 10 Victorians (13%) have a ‘good’ understanding of IBAC’s functions.

Graph 7. Awareness of IBAC (%)

Media reporting is the primary means by which the community hears about IBAC.

Sixty-seven per cent of those who are aware of IBAC heard about IBAC through the media in the past 12 months. Social media is not a major awareness channel overall (16% of those aware of IBAC have seen it on social media in the past 12 months), however it has greater reach among those aged 18 to 34 years (30%) and in CALD communities (22%) (who are less likely to have a good understanding about IBAC).

There is high and strong agreement among Victorians that it is important that IBAC exists.

Eight-two per cent of Victorians agree it is important that IBAC exists, including 44 per cent who strongly agree. However, less than half of Victorians (44%) agree a report to IBAC would be handled appropriately; most are unsure (29% ‘neither agree nor disagree’ and 18% ‘don’t know’). Confidence is significantly higher among people who care for someone with a disability (54%), LGBTIQ+ people (53%) and those who are university educated (48%).

Eight-two per cent of Victorians agree it is important that IBAC exists, including 44 per cent who strongly agree. However, less than half of Victorians (44%) agree a report to IBAC would be handled appropriately; most are unsure (29% ‘neither agree nor disagree’ and 18% ‘don’t know’).

Graph 8. Agreement with statements about IBAC (%)

Most Victorians are at least ‘somewhat’ confident in IBAC’s ability to inform, prevent, detect, and investigate.

Most Victorians are at least ‘confident’ (either ‘somewhat confident’, ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’) in IBAC’s ability to inform the public sector, police and community about the risks and impacts of corruption and police misconduct (70%), or to detect (71%), investigate (74%) or prevent (67%) this. More than one in 10 Victorians are ‘not confident’ in IBAC’s role in each of these functions, with a similar proportion who ‘don’t know’.

Victorians aged 18-34 years and people who identify as LGBTIQ+ are significantly more likely to report higher confidence in IBAC’s role across the measures of informing, preventing, detecting, and investigating corruption and police misconduct. By comparison, people living with a disability and those aged 55 years and over are more likely to report not being confident in IBAC’s ability across all these aspects.

 Most Victorians are at least ‘confident’ (either ‘somewhat confident’, ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’) in IBAC’s ability to inform the public sector, police and community about the risks and impacts of corruption and police misconduct (70%), or to detect (71%), investigate (74%) or prevent (67%) this.

Graph 9. Confidence in IBAC (%)

Among those who are not confident in IBAC’s ability in its areas of remit (around one in six of all participants provided a response), themes raised include a lack of awareness of IBAC, little knowledge and transparency about the outcomes achieved, unfavourable media reporting and a perceived lack of resourcing to enable IBAC to be effective. Comments were also made about political influence reducing or negating IBAC’s efficacy.

Comments were also made about political influence reducing or negating IBAC’s efficacy.

Demographics

Here is a snapshot of the demographic characteristics of participants who completed the Victorian community survey. The dataset has been weighted to reflect the demographic makeup (by age, gender, and location) of the population of Victoria based on census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Sex

Male: 48%; Female: 51%;
Prefer to self-describe: 0.5%

Gender

Identify as LGBTIQ+: 8%
Do not identify as LGBTIQ+: 88%

Age

Under 40 years old: 40%

Education

University educated: 58%
Not university educated: 41%

Aboriginality 

Aboriginal: 1%
Torres Strait Islander: 0.5%
Both: 0.5%
Neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander: 97%

Disability

Live with a disability or impairment: 8%
Care for a person with a disability
or impairment: 6%

Language

Speak English only: 82%
Speak a language other than English at home: 17%

Geographic location

Reside in Melbourne: 76%
Rest of Victoria: 24%

Nationality

Australian-born: 76%
Born outside Australia: 22%

Relationship with Public Sector

Work in the public sector: 13%

Have contact with:

  • State government employees: 30%
  • Local government employees: 33%
  • Victoria Police employees: 20%

About the survey

In May 2022, an online survey was undertaken with 3,000 Victorians aged 18 years or over. The survey sample was sourced via an accredited online research panel. Survey quotas were placed on age, gender, and location.

The findings from the 2022 survey have been compared with the IBAC survey of the Victorian community undertaken in 2016. It is important to note that while some questions were retained, the questionnaire structure was updated in 2022, meaning results may not be directly comparable.

At the time the 2022 survey fieldwork was underway, there was media reporting relating to IBAC and several major operations. This may have impacted on some of the perceptions reported by participants in the surveys.